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How to develop courage and why it's so important ? – Ruben Gonzales

♪ [music] ♪ – [David] So hello, achievers. Today we are with a new guest. I am in Chicago, in the hotel, and I have a new guest called Ruben. He is Ruben Gonzales, the luge man, and his story is awesome. We will discover that. So hello, Ruben. – [Ruben] Hi, how are you, David? – I'm fine. And you? – Oh, terrific. Thank you. – Can you introduce yourself? – Yeah, sure. You know, there's other guys that have done more than four Olympics. It's rare, but it's been done. But I'm the only one that's done four Olympics each in a different decade. Okay? – Yes. – The first one was in the 1980s. The second one Albertville, France in '92. And then Salt Lake City was the third one. That was a new decade. And then Vancouver by two months, it was one more decade. Right? And I tell people, “It doesn't mean I'm good. It just means I'm old.” But I speak, you know, for the last eleven years, I've been speaking, sharing my story all around the world. I got to speak in Divonne right outside of Geneva in France last year. Best bread in the world. They could have, man, they could have paid me zero dollars. Just fly me, and let me eat all the bread. But I just share my story, and I just try to help people learn how to fight for their goals, how to fight for their dreams, and how to become unstoppable. And I believe that the more we share to, you know, as many people as we can, that's how we can make the world a better place. Just teach people how to make their dreams come true. – Cool. What did you do before to be Olympic champion. And why did you start? And how did you start? – Okay. Well, it's a crazy story. I'm not a great athlete. Okay? I can't jump high. I can't run fast. I'm not super strong. I'm like your neighbor. Okay? Really. And during school, I was always the last kid that they chose for teams. You know, whenever they're getting together to play a game, I'm the last one. Yeah, and the team captain that chose me always said the same thing, “Oh, gotta get Ruben again?” And that was the story of my life. It was terrible. But I had a dream. When I was 10 years old, I saw the Olympics on TV, and I just loved it. And I read everything about the Olympics, and I was an Olympic expert, but I didn't believe it's possible because, you know, I'm not even getting to play sports in school. And when I was 21, the Olympics rolled around again, and I saw Scott Hamilton, who is a very famous figure skater. And he's only…he's a tiny short little guy. Okay? Only weighed about 100 pounds, 18-year old kid, and he wins the gold medal. And when I saw him win that medal, I said to myself, “If he can go to the Olympics, I can too. I'll be in the next ones, no matter what. I just have to find a sport.” And so the belief came. Right? And so, you know, when you're trying to reach your goals, you have to have belief, and you have to have desire. Right? If you believe something then you'll take action. Right? – Yes. – And everything is hard at the beginning. No matter what you do, it's always going to be hard at the beginning. So you have to have desire. If you have enough desire, if you want it badly enough, then nothing will make you quit, and you'll stay focused on it long enough to learn the skills that you need to, you know, move forward. So I saw Scott Hamilton. I thought, “If he can do it, I can too.” At the time, I lived in Houston, Texas, which is super-hot and flat and humid. I mean it's like living in Sicily. Okay? And I didn't even know what snow looked like. But it didn't matter. I picked the luge because I thought, “You know. It looks like a lot of broken bones. Maybe there'll be a lot of quitters. I just won't quit. I'll outlast everybody.” When I was young, my Dad got me to read biographies. He said, “Ruben, if you will study the lives of great people, you will figure out what works and what doesn't work in life because success leaves clues.” And so he said, “Read biographies. You'll figure out what works and what doesn't work in life.” And I started reading biographies, and I realized that perseverance, refusing to quit, that's rule number one. And so in high school, after reading all these books, in the fifth grade, I made a decision. I said, “From today on, Ruben doesn't quit anything.” In high school, my nickname was Bulldog, right? Because they said, “You're like a bulldog. You never let go. You know if you grab…” And so I said, “Yeah.” And so when I picked the luge, I thought, “I have to find a tough sport, so there will be many quitters, and I can rise to the top, right? I will just not quit.” So I went to Lake Placid, New York. This is a little town in New York where they had the Olympics in 1932, and then in 1980. And at first they wouldn't take me. I was 21 years old. They said, “You're too old, man. You should have 10 years experience by now. There's no way.” And they were laughing at me. And many times people will laugh at your dreams. Right? – Yes. – Average people will laugh at your dreams because they don't believe. And so…but you just keep, you know, don't worry. – It's impossible. – Yeah. I knew that hanging up the phone, if I hung up the phone, it's all over, right? And so I thought to myself, “I have to find a way. I have to make friends with this guy. I have to think of a way to, you know, get in and get into the training.” And when he found out that I was born in Argentina because I was born in Argentina. My Dad and my family moved to the United States when I was a little boy, six years old. I told him I was born in Argentina just because I'm telling him my life story just to make friends with him, right? And in the background in my mind, I'm thinking,”There's always a way. There's got to be a way. If I don't quit, I'll find a way because, you know, God always gives me a way.” And so I'm telling him my life story. I tell him that I'm born in Argentina and he says, “Argentina? If you'll go for Argentina, we'll help you.” I said, “Why? Before you weren't going to help me at all.” And he said, “Well the sport of luge is in danger of getting kicked out of the Olympics because we don't have enough countries that are doing the luge. We're recruiting. We're looking.” You know, and to be in the Olympics, you have to be a world sport. And luge is just, you know, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, you know, Russia, U.S. , just a few. And so he said, “If you will go for Argentina and somehow…we'll train you. You travel with the U.S. team. You train with us. If somehow, and by some kind of miracle, in four years you can be in the top 50 in the world.” Right? Because you have to be in the top 50 to go to the Olympics. And he said, “And Germany has 60,000 lugers, but don't think about that.” Right? He said, “If we can get you to the top 50 in the world, you get to go to the Olympics. Luge gets an extra country, and that helps the U.S.” And I said, “I don't understand. How is that going to help the U.S.?” And he said, “Simple. Think about it. We are putting millions of dollars into the U.S.team. We're investing in our team, so that a few years from now, we can develop our players, and so we can win some medals in the future. But if we're not an Olympic sport because there's not enough countries, it's money down the drain. So will you help? You know, will you go for Argentina?” I said, “Of course, I'll go for Argentina. I'll go for Pakistan. I don't care, you know. I don't even care what sport. If they would have had, you know, Olympic chess, you know, man, I'd take that.” But, so he said, “Hey, before you come to Lake Placid, you need to know two things: Number 1: If you want to do it at your age, and you want to do it in just four years, it's brutal. Brutal. Nine out of ten people quit.” Well when he said that, I started smiling. I thought, “Wow, it was perfect for my plan. Right?” So I said, “What's the second thing?” He said, “Expect to break some bones.” And I said, “Great! Great!” And he got real quiet on the phone for a long time. And finally he comes back, and he says, “Man, what's wrong with you? You know, I told you you're going to break bones, and that makes you happy. Are you crazy or something?” And I said, “Look, I hope it's 10 times harder than what you're telling me. Because the harder it is, the easier it is for me, because I'm not a quitter. I'm Bulldog. Okay?” And so I was praying that it would be so hard that maybe some of these Germans would quit. But I didn't pray hard enough, because they all showed up. They always show up. Right? But he didn't understand, the man on the phone. He said, “Man, you know..” He must have thought he was a He goes, “Well, come on down. You know, we'll see you in a few weeks.” Click. And he hangs up. And so, I go, and I start training. And it's only two or three months after I saw Scott Hamilton on TV. I'm in Lake Placid, learning how to luge on wheels. First you you learn on wheels on concrete, right? Because it's the springtime. The ice is gone. And you're going 50 mph, 70 kph. And all we're wearing is tennis shoes, shorts, and a T-shirt. Right? And a helmet, but the helmet is just decoration. Okay? It doesn't help much if you crash. And you start training, and it was brutal. and everybody in my group quit, you know? After the first year. I was in a group with 15 other guys that were learning. They all quit. And they all had great excuses for quitting. Right? “Oh, it's too far away. Oh, I miss my family. It's too expensive. I don't like the luge.” I didn't like the luge either. Okay? I was killing myself out there, crashing like crazy. The first two years, I was crashing four out of five times. Four out of five! I mean, that hurt. But I kept at it, right? And after a while, I was crashing three out of five. And then 1 out of 10. And then, after a while, 1 out of 20. And after the end of two years, I was crashing 1 out of 100. Right? Now it's time to fine tune, right? To perfect. Right? And I started competing internationally because you have to have a world ranking. And fourth year, I was able to make the top 50, and I got to go to Calgary in the Olympics. And you're walking, you're marching into the Opening Ceremonies, and you feel so happy, you know, you feel so proud. And at the same time, I felt a little bit sad for these guys that quit because they'd become my friends. And I thought, “Wow, what are they feeling like today? You know, they're watching it on TV. I bet it hurts so much, I'll bet you they have to change channels. Right? I bet it hurts so much, that they can't watch the Olympics for the rest of their life.” And on their death bed, they'll be thinking, “Why? Why did I have to quit?” Right? And I paid a huge price to make my dream come true. I just told you a little bit. Okay. People say, “Ruben, you have sponsors? Who's your sponsor, Ruben? Coca-Cola? Pepsi? Nike?” Ha! My sponsors? Ha! Visa and MasterCard. My own. Yeah? I paid everything with my Visa. At the end of the Olympics, I'm tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Right? And then you have to start paying it off. But that's the price of success. You know, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to get the job done. And people ask me, “Wow, what do I have to do, you know? Can I succeed? Can I do it, you know? How hard is it going to be?” I say, “It's going to be really hard. You know?” Success is tough. It's simple, but it's difficult. Okay? it's simple, but it's difficult. And so you have to work. You have to outwork the competition. You have to give everything you have. Your attitude needs to be, “If I could possibly be asked to do 100 different things, right? To make this dream come true, your attitude needs to be, you have to be willing to do all of them.” Life will very seldom ask you to do all 100. But you don't know which ones it's going to ask you. So your attitude needs to be, “I'm willing to do anything.” Right? Because if you are willing to do all of them but number 87, “Oh, I'm not doing 87, 87 is too tough,” then you're in trouble because that's the one you're going to have to do. Right? And so it's whatever it takes. You know, you have what it takes. It's possible. It's not easy, but it's possible. And don't worry about your probabilities. Right? You know, probability? You know, what percentage? What are the chances that somebody like me can be in the Olympics? Maybe 1%. Maybe half a percent. Right? Well if I focused on that, I would quit. Right? But by committing more, by being willing to fight, fight, fight, and never quit , all of a sudden the probabilities go up. If I quit, guess what? the probability is zero. Right? So you focus on the possibility. Is it possible? Yeah, it's possible. Is it probable? No, but I control probability. Understand? – Yes, I understand. – So you focus on the dreams. – So you are saying a lot of things through your story. It's very inspiring. I love your story. – I am sure. I know you. I know you. I can tell, you know, what you are made up of. And we were trying to connect, right? What time? What time? And I'm traveling. I'm speaking a lot. You're traveling a lot. And we were trying to find a time to make this interview. And I know that if the only time was 3:00 in the morning, we would have both made it happen. Right? – Yes. Yes. – Because of course. Hey, who cares? I can sleep tomorrow. I can sleep after I'm dead. Right? – That's right. – So it's a willingness. Some people, they think, “Well if I can not do it, you know, it has to be between 9:00 in the morning and 5:00 in the afternoon because otherwise, you know, that's work time.” No. That's work time for average people. – I love the last thing you said. It was the price you have to pay. It's very inspiring. You just wrote a book called “Becoming Unstoppable.” And I love this concept. So how can you, how can we become unstoppable? Do you have some tips? – How can we become… ? – Yes. – Okay. Unstoppable means, you know, that… And I tell my kids. I tell ever since they were very little. I tell them, “Look. Life is tough. Okay? And we are going to have to be tougher.” Yeah. Yeah. Prepare them. Right? I don't tell them it's going to be easy because if I do that, they will not fight. Right? So life is tough. We have to be tougher. I ask Grayson [SP]. You got to see my son Grayson earlier. And even when he was four years old, I asked him, “Hey, what are two things that Gonzalezes don't do?” And he goes, “They don't make excuses.” “That's right. What else?” “They don't quit.” “That's right. Okay, you can go play now.” Right? Yeah, but that's a decision. You know, we don't quit. We don't make excuses. Right? So that's part of being unstoppable. Another big part is, you know, I believe that God puts a dream in your heart. Okay? And God gives you talents. You know, gives everybody different talents. And the talent that you have, David, is what you're going to need to make your dream come true. But it's not going to be easy. It's going to be hard. You're going to have to work like crazy, Okay? So, because there's going to be challenges and the challenges is what makes you strong. That's what makes you grow as a person. And so the reason God puts that dream in front of you is like a carrot in front of a horse to make him follow, to make him do all this hard work to reach the dream. And the dream gives you energy. The dream gives you strength. The dream gives you everything you need, all that enthusiasm to be willing to fight for it. Right? – Yes. – And so you always focus on the dream. Never focus, winners don't focus on the challenge. You focus on the dream. So that's part of becoming unstoppable. Another part is you create a Dream Team. A Dream Team. That means, you and I are strong, but we're not Superman. Okay? If we just try to do everything by ourselves, there can be circumstances that are just going to make us quit, no matter how strong we are. So what do you do? You build a team of people, right? That you respect, people that have already done the things that you want to do in life. If you're feeling that you need a little help, man you give them a phone call, and they get you back in the fight. They keep you in the fight long enough to learn the skills. And so that's another thing. You have to have a Dream Team. Then everybody is helping each other out. – Yes. – So those are just a few things about how to become unstoppable. – Yes, it's cool. Do you have advice to create teams? For example, there are people who don't have any teams. They are in a bad mood. They are bad. They don't have…they have some difficulties to find their way or their dreams. How can we find or build this kind of team? – Sometimes, after a speech, somebody will walk up, and this guy might be, you know, 40, 50, 60 years old, and they will ask me, “Man, you talk about the dream so much, but how do I find my dream? I don't even know what my dream is.” And it's, man that's sad when somebody tells you that. Right? But that's…most of the people are that way. And so I tell them, “Look. What was your dream when you were 10 years old? When you were 12 years old? When you were 13? Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, what what your dream then?” Because that dream, that's inside. Okay? That's in your heart. When you're a kid, it's easy to dream. And then life kicks you, and then you get scared to dream, right? And so think about that, and that dream will, at least, direct you to an industry where you might be happy working. You understand? – Yes. – And so maybe when you were young, you wanted to be a basketball player. Right? Well it might be too late to be a basketball player now, right? Or maybe you never did anything with it. Maybe you can be a basketball coach in your local club. Maybe you can work at your local basketball team as a, you know, manager or a helper or whatever. But being around basketball, if that was your dream when you were a child, it's going to make you happy. And that will give you that power and that strength. And, you know, it won't be work. It will be play. Right? – Yes. – So that's one thing that I tell them. “What did you want to do when you were a kid?” And just like Jack Canfield, you know, even before my first Olympics, I read Jack Canfield's book, “Dare To Win” and one thing that he taught was make two lists. Make a list of 100 people you want to meet and 100 things that you want to do in your life. And every time you do one, you put a big circle on it in red. Right? And you write “Victory” next to it. Yeah? And so as the years go by, every time you look at your list, and your list is going to change. Okay? Maybe, you know, maybe you wanted to be a guitar player. Now you don't even care about the guitar anymore. Now you want to do the piano. So it's okay to change. But every time you look back at your list, you see all the victories, and that gives you strength too. Right? Because you realize, “Wow! Look at all the things I've done.” – It's building your self-confidence. – Exactly. Exactly. The people you want to meet. The things you want to do. That helps, too. But you were asking. You know, my Dad, when I was a kid, he said, He would tell me, “Ruben, if you have to cross a minefield, right? A field, you know, like in a war, you have all the mines everywhere, it's smart to follow somebody that has already crossed it, and still has legs.” Okay? – Yes. – Yeah. Always look for somebody that has done what you want to do. Right? Not the theorists. There's many people that, oh, they've read all the books, but they never did it. You don't want to talk to them. You want to talk to the person that did it. Right? A few years ago, I went to Pamplona in Spain and ran with the bulls. Right? And before I went there, I read three books about Pamplona. And I called one of the authors, and I told him, “Look. I want the experience, but I don't want to die. So what's the right way to do it?” And he told me, “Don't stand here. Don't stand here. Do this. Do that.” And we ran with the bulls. We ran from the bulls. Okay? But I didn't kill myself. A couple of years ago, I always wanted to climb Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Right? Let's see, it's over 6,000 meters high. It's really high. Okay? And so if I tried to do this by myself, I probably wouldn't make it. So what do I do? I found a guy, a coach, you know, and he had already climbed Mount Everest. Okay? So for him, Kilimanjaro is nothing. And so he was our guide, and he took us up. So always find somebody that's once…you know, and that's how you build your team by putting people. by putting people. And associate with winners. Right? Associate with people that you respect. And disassociate, get away from the losers. Right? Get away from the people from the people that are always complaining because they'll poison your spirit. You know? And I've learned that you can not, you know, a dreamer will never be understood by a non-dreamer. Okay? – Yes. – Yeah. So you're wasting energy if you're trying to convince a non-dreamer. It's like speaking, you know, a different language. – Chinese. Yes. – Yeah, Chinese or something. No way. It's not going to happen. And so people always…so disassociate and associate with people that you respect because now your attitude is at a higher level, right? And everybody helps each other. Another thing. I think this is great. Successful people, successful people, they like to talk about success. Yeah? And so if you ask them, “You know, how did you do it? Will you teach me how?” Man, buy them a cup of coffee, they'll tell you everything. Okay? Just don't waste their time. You know, take action. You know, make them proud of your achievements, right? Because they helped you with the tips. Right? – Yes. – So if you want to become… – I will make you proud of. – Well, great. Great, man. So anyway, wait, one of these days, we're going to share the stage. That's going to be fun. – Yes. – Yeah. But when I got started speaking, I spoke at a lot of schools. And I would ask the kids. I would say, “Hey, how many of you guys want to be an astronaut?” And always, you know, in a group of 500 kids, there might be two or three that say “Me!” I say, “Okay. If I gave you a million dollars, Okay, could you find the email of an astronaut by tomorrow in 24 hours?” “Oh, yeah. Piece of cake. No problem.” I said, “Okay. Well guess what? I don't have a million dollars, All right? So you're going to have to do it for your dream. You find the email of an astronaut, and email them, and tell them ‘Hey, it's my dream. I want to be like you. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. You know, can you show me the way? What books do I need to read? Who do I need to talk to?' Okay? Do it. Because now, think about the astronaut, that he receives this email. All right? Nobody understands him. All right? All his life, people have been telling him that he's crazy. ‘What? You're going to the moon? Are you crazy? Who do you think you are? Are you going to be an astronaut?' Nobody understands him. Right? Everybody has been making fun of him. Now he gets an email from a kid that thinks just like him. He goes, ‘Oh, I'll help him. Of course, I'll help him. This kid understands me.' ” Right? And that's how you learn. – Yes. I see too. – It's so simple. It's so simple. You know? – Yes. How can we develop courage, and why it's so important? – Well, courage does not mean that you have no fear. Okay? Everybody has fear. Courage means that you have fear, but you still do it. Okay? That means you have heart. Right? Your will, something about the dream makes you do something special, even though you're afraid. If your house is burning down, and I know you've heard this story. If your house is burning down, you're not going to go into the fire to save your favorite book. Okay? But if your baby brother is there, you're going to go in. You're going to get burnt, but you're going to save your baby brother. Right? So what's the difference? Well the dream was the difference, right? That gave you courage. Right? So that's a little bit about courage. Now courage. Aristotle. Aristotle? He said that…and he was a pretty smart guy. Okay? I mean everybody is still talking about how smart this guy was. Aristotle said that “Whatever you do many times, whatever you repeatedly do, you become like that.” Okay? So courage is like a muscle. All right? Think of it as a muscle. If you never do anything scary, if you never do anything that takes a little bit of courage, then you're going to have very soft courage muscle. Right? No good. So let's say that you're going to go to the restaurant to eat dinner with your friends. And always…I'm sure this happens in France too. The waiter comes and he says, “What would you like to order?” And everybody's afraid to order the first thing. It's always, “Oh, what do you want? I'll have what you'll have. What are you going to have? What are you going to have?” Nobody wants to make a decision because they think that if they order the chicken that's going to be stupid. Right? They're afraid to make the first decision. So next time you go to a restaurant beforehand, you say to yourself, “Man, I'm going to order first.” Okay? “It's going to be scary, but I'm going to order first.” Now the waiter comes, you say, “I'll have the chicken.” Or the beef, or whatever you want. Right? And now everybody orders the chicken because, you know, now it's safe, right? Because you just had the courage. So now you did something a little bit scary, and you faced it. And now you're a little bit more courageous. Right? Your muscle just “Ugh!” You just did one courage. Courage one, fear zero. Okay? And so if every day you do two or three little things that take a little bit of courage, it gets stronger, stronger, stronger. And then one day you decide, “Hey, I'm going to do something really crazy, you know?” And so you can always look back at the things that you've done, and that can give you courage in the future. Make sense? – Yes. – Yeah. So you practice courage every day a little bit,and then you become more courageous.

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